Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.
Doubtless William Butler – aka Dr Boteler, eccentric English physician of the late 1500s – loved his strawberries.
And doubtless William Butler would have been pained to the core at the recent news from Australia about his favourite fruit.
As the call-out gains momentum for us all to go out and buy more strawberries to help salvage the multi-million dollar industry, this column is dedicated to the fruit of the hour.
There’s plenty you can do with strawberries – make them into puddings, pies, soufflés, cakes and shortcakes, not to mention preserves and jams. But the recipes provided here use them fresh – the best way to consume strawberries.
Put strawberries, washed and hulled, in a large bowl. Have two smaller bowls beside it, one with sour cream (or crème freche or cream cheese) and the other with brown sugar. Let guests dip a strawberry first in the cream, and then in the sugar. Yum.
For an unusual variation of the above, replace cream with good quality balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar with powdered (confectioners’) sugar. Different, but delicious.
Combine strawberries with blueberries. Sprinkle castor sugar over and let sit for five minutes to bring the juices out. Serve with double cream and chocolate dip on the side.
Combine thick creamy yoghurt with honey and freshly grated nutmeg. Put strawberries in individual bowls. Pour yoghurt mixture over. Top with toasted flaked almonds.
Cut up strawberries and sprinkle brown sugar over. Set aside for five minutes to bring the flavours out. Then sprinkle some lemon juice and orange liqueur over (use fresh orange juice for kids). Throw in some fresh mint leaves.
Thickly slice strawberries and sprinkle a little sugar over. Add a splash of Grand Marnier and serve as is or with a pound cake.
Combine caster sugar, water, lime juice and thin slices of fresh ginger in a saucepan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Cool and pour over sliced, hulled strawberries. Allow to stand in the fridge for 30 minutes. Spoon into serving glasses and top with vanilla yoghurt.
Wash and hull strawberries and slice thickly. In a large bowl, marinate strawberries in Amaretto liqueur for about 4 hours. Serve over ice cream and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Chocolate-coated strawberries Put 250 gms cooking chocolate into a mixing bowl. Bring to a boil ½ cup thickened cream. Pour on to the chocolates and mix till smooth. Leave aside 3-4 minutes to harden. Wash strawberries but leave the caps on. Dip the thin ends of the strawberries into the chocolate mixture. Arrange on a platter and refrigerate.
Stuffed strawberries Beat 1 tub cream cheese, ½ cup castor sugar and 1 tsp almond extract until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a pastry bag and chill for an hour. Slit strawberries from tip to stem end leaving the base intact. Pipe cream cheese mixture into strawberries. Chill until ready to serve.
Smoothie Put one cup of milk (your choice of regular, soy, almond), 4 strawberries (halved) and two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a blender and blend till smooth. (Add honey to sweeten if needed).
Agua Fresca Combine 4 cups sliced strawberries with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Mash strawberries with a masher. Mix, cover with cling film and refrigerate about 4 hours to macerate. Then blend until smooth. Pour through strainer and discard pulp. Add 7 cups of chilled water. This should give you 8 serves.
Strawberry Daiquiri Although there are many versions, here’s a simple recipe. Mix in a blender 40ml White Rum, 20ml Strawberry liqueur, 3-4 strawberries (depending on their size), 50ml lemon juice, and a cup of crushed ice.
Strawberries in salad
Strawberry salsa Finely dice 1 Lebanese cucumber, 1 red onion, and about half each red and yellow capsicums. Dress with 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander and 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar. Mix well and refrigerate for an hour. Just before serving, add in 250 gms strawberries, diced.
With cheese and nuts Mix in strawberries with goat’s cheese and walnuts; use a dressing of choice and serve on a bed of your favourite greens.
Spinach salad with strawberries Make a honey dressing by shaking together in a small jar 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Combine 1 cup thickly sliced strawberries with 1 tbsp sliced almonds and 1 small red onion, diced. Toss baby spinach leaves with honey dressing and arrange on a platter. Spoon strawberry mixture on top.